Shifts in disease dynamics in a tropical amphibian assemblage are not due to pathogen attenuation

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Abstract

Infectious diseases rarely end in extinction. Yet the mechanisms that explain how epidemics subside are difficult to pinpoint. We investigated host-pathogen interactions after the emergence of a lethal fungal pathogen in a tropical amphibian assemblage. Some amphibian host species are recovering, but the pathogen is still present and is as pathogenic today as it was almost a decade ago. In addition, some species have defenses that are more effective now than they were before the epidemic. These results suggest that host recoveries are not caused by pathogen attenuation and may be due to shifts in host responses. Our findings provide insights into the mechanisms underlying disease transitions, which are increasingly important to understand in an era of emerging infectious diseases and unprecedented global pandemics.

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